How to View the Clipboard History on a Mac

Macs have come equipped with often under-utilized clipboards for decades. The ability to copy and paste comes in handy, but it can be a pain to use. For instance, if you copy something and forget to paste it immediately, you would have to go back to the original text to repeat the process. However, with the clipboard, you don’t have to do this.

How to View the Clipboard History on a Mac

This article will look at how to use the clipboard history to copy and paste more efficiently.

Where Is the Clipboard on Mac?

Your Mac clipboard runs quietly in the background and isn’t something we often think about. It uses minimal processing power and doesn’t require much space. If you were hoping to open the clipboard and find everything you’d ever copied, you’d be disappointed. Mac’s limited clipboard feature will only show you the last thing you copied.

Here’s how to view your clipboard:

  1. Open Finder and tap “Edit” in the top-left corner.
  2. Click “Show Clipboard” to find the last thing you copied.

Universal Clipboard

With iOS 10 and macOS Sierra, Apple introduced a Universal Clipboard which allows users to copy and paste on multiple devices simultaneously. All that’s required is for the devices to be logged in to the same iCloud account, be connected to the same Wi-Fi network, and have Bluetooth switched on. The Universal Clipboard is an incredible time-saving tool allowing you to work on different Apple devices simultaneously.

Hidden Secondary Clipboard

Apple has a hidden clipboard that it doesn’t publicize. Unlike the regular clipboard, it uses the cut feature instead of copy. To copy text from a document, press Control + K to cut and then Control + Y to paste your content. This method doesn’t remove the content already on the clipboard as usually happens with the copy and paste feature.

Third-Party Clipboard Tools

The only thing saved in your Mac’s clipboard is the last item that you copied. This is a huge limitation that prevents users from viewing their copy history without using special tools. Fortunately, many developers have been working on solutions that allow users to control the number of items their clipboards can hold. There are even apps that enable users to create multiple clipboards on Mac.


The JumpCut app is an open-source tool that will allow you to view your clipboard history. This is a simple, reliable app that has been around for some time. When you download this program, you might get a prompt from Apple letting you know that they don’t recognize the developer. That’s to be expected because JumpCut isn’t one of their iOS apps. This is what you need to do when downloading the program.

  1. Head to “System Preferences” and tap “General.”
  2. Select “Open Anyway” to proceed with the installation.

Once JumpCut is installed on your computer, it will begin creating a list of your copied items. The app icon is a small pair of scissors that will appear in your menu bar. To use copied content, tap the JumpCut icon, click on the item you’re interested in, and paste it wherever you need it.


The Flycut app is a free, open-source clipboard manager designed for developers. Unfortunately, it doesn’t support copying images or tables. When you launch Flycut, the app’s icon appears in the menu bar. Clicking on this icon will display your copied content. To use this data, tap the text you want to use, and paste it to the relevant document.


Although it’s similar to other lightweight clipboard managers such as Jumpcut and Flycut, CopyClip is a good alternative if you’re looking for a simple yet effective app. Unfortunately, CopyClip only supports plain text and doesn’t retain formatting. That means that you can’t copy links or tables.

Unlike Flycut and JumpCut, CopyClip doesn’t have a hotkey to access its library. Instead, it only shows a menu bar icon that you can click to select the snippets that you want to copy. You can, however, set a limit on how many snippets it will hold. This will help you save some storage space.

You can also prevent certain apps from being saved to your clipboard history by clicking the “Exclude apps” option. This will help keep sensitive information private.


Copy’Em is a great app for managing your Mac clipboard. It offers a variety of features, and it’s very unobtrusive.

You can access your Copy’Em library through the menu bar. It can keep track of all the details you copy, including rich text, images, and code snippets. It can even copy entire files.

Copy’Em allows you to sort content into categories and either copy or drag them to the location that you need them to go. If you want to keep track of all the items you’ve copied, you can group and store them in lists.

One of the app’s best features is the ability to take and save a screenshot directly into the app’s clipboard manager. You can also pause Copy’Em if you decide that the in-built clipboard on your device is enough for you.

Copy’Em pairs well with Paste Queue, which allows you to copy numerous items simultaneously and paste them to your preferred location. This means that you won’t have to go back and forth between documents.


Paste is an excellent app for managing multiple clipboards. It has a user-friendly interface that makes it easy to accomplish your copy-paste tasks. However, this is a subscription app, which might not be ideal for everyone.

With Paste, you can decide how many snippets you want stored on the app, starting from fifty to unlimited. These snippets could include text, links, images, and tables. The Shift + Cmd + V keys will enable you to paste your content to your preferred location.

With the app’s Pinboards feature, you can organize your snippets into various categories. You can also use the search bar to look for items you’re interested in using.

Paste has a 14-day trial period that allows you to test drive the program to see if it suits your needs.

How to Fix Clipboard

If your copy and paste function isn’t working as it should, the Activity Monitor could be of help. Here’s how to use it:

  1. Open “Applications” and tap “Utilities.”
  2. Launch “Activity Monitor,” type “pboard” in the search bar, and hit “Enter.”
  3. Press the “X” in the top left corner of the screen to exit the window.

This should reset your clipboard and the copy-paste function should be operational once again.

If there’s still a problem, the issue might be your keyboard. To rectify this, follow the steps here:

  1. Highlight text on your document.
  2. Select “Copy” and then “Paste” from the edit menu.

If the material is copied and pasted successfully, then the problem is the keyboard and not your clipboard. Restart your device to get the keyboard working correctly.

A Better Way to Copy and Paste

Mac’s under-utilized clipboard feature makes the copy-paste process more efficient. With the help of this guide, you can learn how to use this tool to improve productivity. The Mac clipboard has some limitations, but fortunately, developers have stepped in to rectify the problem. Downloading some of the third-party programs mentioned here can significantly enhance your device’s copy-paste feature.

Have you viewed your Mac clipboard? What method did you use? Let us know in the comments below.

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